Knock on wood, thank God, or any other sign of humility, but neither my family nor I have ever had cancer. Well, that’s not quite true. My elder sister had a small cancer removed many years ago that was small and has not returned. I won’t say we haven’t had problems and sorrows, but fortunately living with cancer has not been one of them.

However, blogs and other missives by cancer sufferers and survivors have so much to teach about communication. Perhaps it’s their heightened appreciation for life.  A recent npr.org news story, “Keep Fighting,” about Leroy Sievers, author of the popular blog “My Cancer,” (npr.org/blogs/mycancer/) reminds me of the following poem by Emily Dickinson.

It don’t sound so terrible — quite — as it did —

I run it over  — “Dead”, Brain — “Dead”.

Put it in Latin — left of my school — 

Seems it don’t shriek so — under rule.

 

Turn it, a little  — full in the face

A Trouble looks bitterest — 

Shift it — just — 

Say “When Tomorrow comes this way — 

I shall have waded down one Day”.

 

I suppose it will interrupt me some

Till I get accustomed — but then the Tomb

Like other new Things — shows largest — then — 

And smaller, by Habit — 

 

It’s shrewder then

Put the Thought in advance — a Year — 

How like “a fit” — then — 

Murder —  wear!

Mr. Sievers, who passed away recently, talked about cancer with the same bold approach. He couldn’t control the cancer but he kept it from “shriek(ing) so — under rule” of the written word. Reckoning with the fact that a mighty struggle will come and go, the poem, like Mr. Sievers’ blog, counsels “Turn it, a little…/Shift it  — just/Say ‘When Tomorrow comes this way — /I shall have waded down one Day’/

I suppose it will interrupt me some/Till I get accustomed — but then…” 

One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with is the never-ending quality to some tragedies. I want to think if I’m smart enough, loving enough, faithful enough, or, can act strategically, I can banish a pain. “My Cancer” and “It don’t sound so terrible —”  tell me some fights are never over. 

 

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way

 

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